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I Remember

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The night began and ended exactly how Lee Jihoon imagined it would— boring and anticlimactic. In all honesty, he only humored the outing for Seungkwan’s sake. Every day, at the end of their work shift, Seungkwan would give him the most pitiful look he could muster as he once again begged Jihoon to accompany him for drinks, or dinner, or dancing— something. And every day, Jihoon would politely decline. Strangely enough, tonight he was in a giving mood and decided to make his friend’s night.

 

It was a huge mistake.

 

From the moment Jihoon woke up in the morning, the thing he looked forward to the most was the moment he could clock in and return home. It wasn’t like he hated his job or his life. He just wasn’t the most social person on Earth. He spent the majority of his hours at work, huddled within his little cubicle, writing well-constructed characters and avoiding his very-real coworkers who seemed to be full of flaws and plot holes. He rarely attended invited lunches (unless mandatory) and made it a point not to make any large waves. He was content with the way things were.

 

It never really made sense to him how he and Seungkwan managed to be such good friends despite being polar opposites. Jihoon firmly believed that opposites didn’t attract, going as far as to research the myth for validating evidence. The only valid reason he could come up with was that there had to be something, the two had in common. After a year of friendship, however, he had yet to really find out what it was.

 

Seungkwan was the type of man to draw in attention whenever he entered a room— hell when he exited he may a big scene too. Every time he pitched an idea for his latest novel, he found some way of creating an office-wide spectacle that would more often than not, be met with praise and fanfare. He was infectiously happy all the time and just had a personality that warms you from your very core. Jihoon found it to be extremely impressive and utter bullshit at the same time. He was too much of a realist (though Seungkwan claims he’s more of a pessimist) to believe that Seungkwan really saw everything and everyone through rose-colored lenses. No one could ever be that happy all the time. Jihoon knew very well that most people were just going through the motions and putting on a good show, and if that was the case, Seungkwan was one hell of a performer.

 

When the easygoing man suggested they get a couple of drinks at a bar, it seemed that he conveniently forgot to mention that it would be a karaoke bar, and that “a couple of drinks” was lingo for ogling the new, cute DJ that worked there.

 

For the better half of two hours, Jihoon endured sticking to a plastic leather booth, nursing his Whiskey and coke (he was way too prideful to admit the taste felt like swallowing battery acid to a lightweight), and watching Seungkwan three separate renditions of sappy, love ballads just to get said DJ’s attention.

 

It wasn’t working.

 

The red and purple lights danced across the room and bathed the bar’s patrons in its hazy glow. The room became extremely muggy from the numerous amount of bodies dancing and galavanting across the open dance floor. Jihoon could feel the bass of the sound system vibrating beneath his feet and against his back, as he half-heartedly listened to Seungkwan belt out his fourth song of the night— a dancey pop song. Jihoon pushed the black fringe of his hair off of his forehead, stealing a secretive glance at the DJ, who had yet to even look up from his cellphone during Seungkwan’s entire performance. Jihoon clicked his tongue and shook his head. Somehow his role for the night landed in the middle of wingman and stalker.

He sighed as he picked up his own phone, eyeing the time, and closing his eyes at the realization that it was already past midnight. It wasn’t like he had anywhere to be, but he typically liked to spend his late Friday night-early Saturday mornings curled up in his apartment, watching reruns of his favorite sitcom and scarfing down an entire box of drug store chocolate.

 

He was already in the middle of forming passable excuses to leave early when Seungkwan returned to their small table, drenched in a thin layer of sweat. He ran his fingers through his brown hair and plopped down in the chair across from Jihoon, wide grin on his face.

 

“That was quite a performance,” Jihoon said staring at his friend and tapping his phone against the tabletop.

 

“Really? You think so? Was it good?” Seungkwan asked probing for more compliments. How much more ego-stroking am I going to have to do tonight, Jihoon thought to himself.

 

“No different than the last three songs you did within the last couple of hours,” Jihoon said rolling his eyes at Seungkwan’s victorious grin.

 

“Did he look this time?” Seungkwan asked leaning in as if the loud music wouldn’t cover his voice. His eyes darted over his shoulder quickly in the direction of the sound equipment and then back at Jihoon.

 

“No, Seungkwan. He stared at his phone the whole time, just like the last three times you went up there. Do you have to be so “high school” about this? Why don’t you just go ask for his number?” Jihoon complained in exasperation. “At this rate, they’ll have to hire you to put on a one-man show here.”

 

Seungkwan sulked into his seat, lips forming into a pout. “He didn’t look at me once tonight.” He stated dejectedly.

 

“Probably because he can sense a stalker in the making.” Jihoon quipped. Seungkwan reached for the lemon on the rim of Jihoon’s glass and tossed it back at him, hitting him square in the chest. “Hey!”

 

“You’re a terrible wingman,” Seungkwan muttered, “If I would’ve known that, I would have invited Soonyoung or Minghao.” He reached for his own drink and took a large gulp before setting it back on the table.

 

“You should’ve invited Soonyoung of Minghao. Had I known this is what you had planned I would’ve gladly stayed my ass at home.” Jihoon said in a huff. “Speaking of which, unless you’re trying to get a record deal, I say we call it a night.”

 

Seungkwan turned around to eye the DJ again. This time the man was laughing and smiling with a woman, helping her choose a song out of the songbook. Seungkwan turned back to Jihoon and downed his drink in one go. “I’m going to do one more song and then if it doesn’t work we’ll leave.”

 

Jihoon gave an exaggerated sigh and covered his face with both of his hands. “I can’t watch this anymore. I’m going to wait for you outside and if at,” Jihoon checked his cellphone again, “..1:04 you’re not outside, I’m walking home. You get ten minutes.” He said rising out of his seat. Seungkwan gave a dramatic bow in appreciation and scrambled over to the DJ booth to make his next request.

 

Jihoon left a small tip on the table and walked out of the main entrance. The night air was brisk and sent a chill down his spine as he stepped further outside. The bass from inside the bar seem to reverberate even louder from the outside and he was almost 100% sure the sudden switch to yet another pop song was Boo Seungkwan’s doing. He made his way past a crowd of rowdy college students forcing their way inside and opted to lean against the wall and wait for Seungkwan to come out.

 

He felt overstimulated by all the bright neon lights from the strip of bars along the sidewalk and the flashing traffic signs. His ears honed in on multiple conversations from passersby as they entered the karaoke bar or ventured further down the sidewalk. The longer he stood there, feeling completely out of place, the more he plotted on how to torture Seungkwan at work on Monday.

 

After five minutes, he pulled out his phone and debated ordering a ride home as punishment, but his guilty conscience would never forgive him if he left Seungkwan alone after midnight. He leaned his head against the brick wall of the building and closed his eyes. The cold air was uncommon for a summer night, not that he was complaining, It was a good break from the torturous heat during the day time. But every caress of the wind’s touch across his spine, or his cheek, made him shudder anxiously. It felt strangely unnerving.

 

“Jihoon?”

 

Jihoon’s eyes stayed shut—tight. He knew that voice. He wished he didn’t but he knew it all too well to be mistaken. He’d heard that low, husky voice sing in the mornings and moan at night. He knew what it sounded like through a stifled sob and as a frustrated snap. It was a voice he never thought he’d hear again. His subconscious buried the voice so deep within its depths, that Jihoon went on in life wondering if the person ever existed.

 

But he obviously did exist. Jihoon could feel his presence mere feet away from him and could feel his body heat when the distance closed between them.

 

“Jihoon.” The voice said again more firmly.

 

Jihoon didn’t know why he was so afraid to open his eyes. He wished it was Seungkwan. He wished he stayed inside and watched another of his friend’s gaudy performances. He wanted to dissolve into the wall he was leaning against and blend into the staggered bricks.

 

“I know you can hear me Jihoon.”

 

Jihoon finally opened his eyes slowly, taking in the image before him. The man stood over him if anything he seemed taller than the last time they were together. His dark hair was perfectly put together, framing his face and slightly pushed off of his forehead. He seemed tanner, of course, it could have been from the assortment of flashing lights along the strip. Jihoon also couldn’t help but notice that the man’s sense of style seemed to have greatly improved. He graduated from the simple tees and jeans that Jihoon knew him for and currently wore a black button-down shirt, embroidered in gold trim and matching black slacks.

 

“Seungcheol,” Jihoon managed to say. He offered what he hoped look like a friendly smile, but inside he was a bundle of nerves.

 

Seungcheol’s eyes scanned up and down Jihoon’s person and Jihoon could feel himself shrink under the scrutiny. “Long time no see,” Seungcheol said slowly folding his jacket over his arm and crossing them over his chest. “You…you dyed your hair.” His eyes landed on Jihoon’s black locks in awe before trailing his eyes down further. “And you pierced your ear.”

 

Jihoon self consciously tugged at the lone hoop earring in his left ear and let out a breathless laugh. “Yeah, I…I guess I did.”

 

The following silence was awkward, to say the least. What exactly do you say to someone that you hadn’t seen in three years? The way their tumultuous …relationship situation ended didn’t exactly warrant a heartfelt reunion.

 

“I heard…I mean I was told by some people that you moved after graduation.” Jihoon said scratching his head for lack of a better thing to do with his hands.

 

Seungcheol shifted his weight, eyes never leaving Jihoon’s. “I did, but what can I say? I missed it here too much. I’m actually back at the same apartment—you might have seen the pictures I posted,” He said reaching in his back pocket for his phone.

 

“Oh, I…I actually…don’t follow you…anymore,” Jihoon interrupted.

 

Seungcheol paused, phone in hand and clicked his tongue. “Of course you don’t.” He said more to himself. He moved to place the phone back in his pocket. “What are you doing here? I thought the bar scene was never really your thing.” He said making an exaggerated gesture with his hands.

 

Jihoon frowned, tongue in cheek, and folded his arms defensively. “I like it just fine. Besides, I’m here with someone.” He pointed back towards the karaoke bar. “I’m just waiting for him to come out.” Jihoon wasn’t drunk—he was nowhere near intoxicated— but the alcohol had to be playing a trick on him. The expression that waved across Seungcheol’s face almost appeared as one of jealousy…or maybe hurt?

 

Whatever it was disappeared in less than a second and was replaced by impassiveness. Seungcheol pursed his lips and his thick brows raised as if to say ‘oh.’ He slowly nodded looking around the perimeter of the bar, avoiding Jihoon’s gaze. “Must be someone really special to get you come out on a Friday night.”

 

Jihoon swallowed back the guilt forming in the back of his throat. He never planned on running into Choi Seungcheol again ever. But even if he had fathomed a potential reunion, he could have never imagined that it would be this awkward, this uncomfortable, and this painful. There was no way he could allude to anything from their past without unleashing pandora’s box simultaneously. And there were many things still left unsaid, mostly on Jihoon’s part. The following silence between them was agonizing and he really wished Seungkwan would hurry out so that they could leave, but his savior from the awkward situation took another form.

 

“Hey, I thought you were going to get us a table?” A velvety voice said approaching the duo.

 

The first thing Jihoon noticed was the man’s hair was the exact tint of platinum blonde that he used to wear on his own hair, before dying it. The man was handsome, modelesque even, and attached himself to Seungcheol’s side like a leech. His body was huddled against Seungcheol’s side signaling familiarity. Suddenly, Jihoon didn’t feel awkward. He felt downright embarrassed for being alone, running into Seungcheol and his new…

 

“Oh,” the man said finally noticing Jihoon’s presence only after Seungcheol refused to break eye contact. “Who’s this?” His sweet smile felt sickening to Jihoon. He had been through enough life lessons to know a fake smile when he saw one.

 

Seungcheol cleared his throat, coming out of his entranced reverie and pointed between the two. “ Jeonghan, this is Jihoon. He’s one of my old college classmates. Jihoon, this is Jeonghan.”

 

Classmate?

 

Classmate?

 

If there was one thing Jihoon was certain of, it was that there was no way in hell their chapter of ancient history was titled "Classmates."

 

Jeonghan smiled even brighter and extended a hand towards Jihoon. Jihoon was apprehensive to take it. He could read between the lines of what Seungcheol and Jeonghan’s relationship was and somehow, the blond’s extended hand symbolized much more. Instead of camaraderie, Jeonghan’s smile and extended hand seemed to say, “You were a formidable contestant but I won the door prize.” He hesitantly shook the hand before him anyway. If he wasn’t anything, he was cordial.

 

“Nice to meet you,” Jeonghan said withdrawing his hand. “We came to visit our friend Vernon. He’s the DJ here. Do you know him?”

 

Before Jihoon could further indulge in the conversation, Seungkwan came bursting through the doors of the karaoke bar, a triumphant glint in his eyes and a wide grin on his lips. He waved his phone in the air in Jihoon’s general direction. 

 

“I got it!” He exclaimed.

 

“Oh good you got the uber,” Jihoon said giving Seungkwan a hard look, hoping he would understand the cue to play along. Seungcheol sized the newcomer up and down, trailing his eyes back towards Jihoon and furrowing his brows.

 

“Uber?” Seungkwan asked confusion crossing his face. “No, I was talking about-”

 

“I know the Uber,” Jihoon stressed taking Seungkwan’s hand in his. “Because we have to go now. I’m sure it’ll be here any minute.” After seconds of receiving a blank stare from his friend, Jihoon turned towards Seungcheol and Jeonghan once again with an apologetic smile. “As you can see it’s been a long night so we should really get going.”

 

“Oh we totally understand,” Jeonghan said tugging on Seungcheol’s hand. “Have a good night.”

 

Jihoon turned on his heels prepared to push Seungkwan as far away from the bar as possible and then into a ditch when Seungcheol called his name again. He looked over his shoulder to find, Jeonghan had already entered the bar and Seungcheol holding the door open.

 

“It was good seeing you again,” he said eyes lingering on Jihoon one more time before heading inside.

 

 

Jihoon let out a heavy breath and crouched down, bracing himself against his knees.

 

“What was all of that about?” Seungkwan asked looking back at the bar and then over at the keeling man.

 

 

“That…was Seungcheol,” Jihoon said between his legs. “Choi Seungcheol.”

 

 

Seungkwan’s eyes widened in disbelief. “Seungcheol? The one that you-”

 

 

“Mmhmm,” Jihoon mumbled from his bent position.

 

 

“The one you’re in love with!” Seungkwan exclaimed slapping his hands to his cheeks in shock.

 

 

“Don’t tell the whole damn neighborhood!” Jihoon glared looking up at the brunet. “I don’t even know that I’m still in love with him. It’s been years.”

 

“Then why are you practically hyperventilating on the street right now?” Seungkwan asked voice laced with concern. He rushed over to Jihoon’s side, helping him stand up straight and placed a steady hand on his shoulder. “Do you want to talk about it? We could go get some food and we can talk about it.”

 

Jihoon shook his head fervently. He wrapped his arms around himself in a tight, insecure hug and exhaled slowly. “The last thing I want to do is talk about it.” He said staring out into the night. “I’m tired. I’m just gonna call it a night and head home.”

 

“Do you want me to walk with you?” Seungkwan offered.

 

“No, just…just text me when you make it back.” Jihoon said already hightailing it down to the crosswalk.

 

“Same to you!” Seungkwan called looking after the short male until he vanished down the street.

 


 

Jihoon felt the warm rays of sunlight pouring into his bedroom window and dancing across his eyelids. He wanted to close the blinds so badly. He wasn’t ready to wake up, too comfortable with his face pressed against the warm bare skin of a comforting chest. He hung onto the last remnants of sleep as it slipped away from and inhaled deeply taking in his partner’s scent. It was earthy, resembling cedar or sandalwood and Jihoon came to love the fragrance over the past few months, though he’d never admit. He lightly dragged his fingers across the exposed skin and down to his navel, finally opening his eyes. His own brown orbs stared down at Jihoon, reflecting in the morning sunlight and Jihoon couldn’t tear away.

 

He never thought anything extraordinary about his own brown eyes but his were ones to be envied. They reminded him of deep pools of caramel lined with chocolate accents. In the sunlight, they reminded him of the warmth of cinnamon as shades of sienna reflected in radiance.

 

“You know you talk in your sleep?” He asked the corner of his mouth up turning into a cute smirk.

 

Jihoon rose up from his position on the man’s chest and shifted over to his side of the bed. “I do not.” He insisted looking for his cellphone beneath the linen sheets and comforter.

 

“Sure you do,” the man said rolling on his side to face Jihoon and propping his head up with his arm. “You were saying my name all night and a little this morning.”

 

“Proof or it didn’t happen,” Jihoon said fumbling with the sheets. Where was his phone?

 

The man grabbed his wrists and pinned him down flat on his back, head softly landing on the pillow beneath him. Jihoon watched as the smirk turned into a full-on grin and the man’s pink tongue darted out slowly, swiping across his bottom lip. “I don’t need proof when the memory is still engraved in my brain.” He said leaning down for a chaste kiss. His soft lips danced across Jihoon’s eliciting a wanton moan. “Seungcheol,” the man moaned out in mimicry. “Seungcheol…Seungcheol…Seungcheol.”

 

Jihoon’s brows furrowed. Seungcheol? The face appeared clearer to him now, The thick, dark brows knitted in confusion as Jihoon pulled away from the kiss and took in his presence. “Seungcheol, what are you doing here-”

 

He could hear his phone vibrating angrily beneath the sheets and letting out a piercing and alarming ring, causing Jihoon to shoot straight up in a cold sweat.

 

The room was completely dark and he was alone.

 

He stared at the perpetual darkness surrounding him, breath hitching and beads of sweat forming along his forehead, dampening his locks.

 

He was all alone.

 

The sound of his cellphone’s alarm continued to blare throughout the room, tangled in the cotton sheets of his bed. He blindly searched for the device, sweeping his hands across the expanse of the mattress until he came in contact with the device. The blue light illuminated the room, displaying the current time with a quick text reminder that it was time for him to get up and go to work. He slid his thumb across the screen and collapsed back onto his pillow in the silence.

 

He hadn’t dreamed about Seungcheol in years. And all it took was one run in and his brain was already reproducing memories of the man. It was nerve-racking. There really shouldn’t be a reason that Jihoon could remember his scent so clearly. It had been years since he shared the same bed with Seungcheol, and yet he could still pick out the unmistakable scent in his dreams. The phantom scent released a surge of dopamine in his brain and wrapped him in a constant state of comfort. Why in the fuck did he have to run into him?

 


 

“You look like complete and utter shit,” Seungkwan said marveling at Jihoon’s appearance as he sat down at the table. Internally, Seungkwan felt a bit victorious that he successfully managed to drag Jihoon out somewhere—this time for a well-deserved lunch break, but he had no idea his friend looked so worn out.

 

Jihoon’s eyes were rimmed red and surrounded by noticeably forming bags beneath them. His hair wasn’t meticulously combed as it usually was, his dark locks laying every which way across his head. His body slumped forward slightly when he sat down and Seungkwan was actually worried that the man might fall over onto the lunch menu before him.

 

“I didn’t get much sleep this weekend,” Jihoon admitted, a wide-mouthed yawn following the statement.

 

“Why not?” Seungkwan asked.

 

Jihoon picked his head up to stare at his friend. “I kept having recurring dreams…or maybe nightmares.”

 

“About?” Seungkwan probed.

 

“Seungcheol.”

 

Seungkwan nodded in understanding and picked up his own lunch menu. “I see,” he said thumbing through the laminated pages. “Well, I think you should talk about it. Obviously, you need to if it’s on your mind so heavily that you’re losing sleep over it.”

 

The waiter came promptly to take their orders and collect their menus and returned inside the restaurant. Jihoon stared off into the distance, watching the crisp green leaves blow restlessly in the summer breeze. He could feel Seungkwan waiting expectantly and let out a small sigh, meeting his eyes once again.

 

“What’s there to talk about? We had a really…weird thing…in college. He wanted more out of it and I didn’t. I got scared so I took the coward’s way out.” Jihoon said shrugging. He ran his fingers through his hair and lolled his head back momentarily.

 

“But you were still in love with him,” Seungkwan said. Jihoon nodded. “Then why didn’t you want to be with him? I know you briefly told me about this before but I don’t really understand what the problem was?”

 

Jihoon drummed his fingers against the white polyester table cloth. He chewed on his bottom lip, contemplating whether or not expressing the thoughts he kept to himself for so long would free him or push him further into anxiety.

 

“Sometimes…Seungkwan,” he said slowly refusing to meet the other’s eyes, “happiness can feel like dying a thousand deaths.” A brief moment of silence passed between them and Jihoon appreciatively acknowledged Seungkwan’s notion for him to continue. “In a state of pure bliss and happiness, you—well I, always seem to wonder if this is the happiest I’ll ever be again? Have I peaked? The happiness kind of becomes a…mirage. That’s how it felt with Seungcheol. And…it had nothing to do with him…it was all my thought process and my fears stunting me.”

 

Jihoon finally looked up at Seungkwan who seemed to be staring intently at him. Jihoon licked his lips, looking away briefly, and continued. “I had—have existential fears, Seungkwan. I know everyone does but, your own fears always seem to supersede those of others, you know? And I believe that the more we have in life, the more we have to lose. The more someone or something means to us, the more afraid we are of losing that person. Love and life just work out that way. I was just afraid of losing it…losing everything. So I ran.”

 

Seungkwan gave Jihoon a sympathetic look. He reached across the table to his hand and rubbed it comfortingly. Jihoon could only muster a half-grin in appreciation. It did feel good to talk to someone about it, but it didn’t make the problem go away for him. Seungcheol was back in town now and the odds of them running into each other again were very likely. He didn’t want to spiral out of control.

 

“So that’s what it is? You’re afraid?” Seungkwan asked. “I know this is probably a stretch but, did you ever try to tell Seungcheol this?”

 

Jihoon snorted as the waiter set their orders before them and picked up his fork deftly. “No.” He said simply taking a bite of his food and swallowing. “No. Relationships were uncharted territory for me. It was risky to mention any of this. I already felt vulnerable enough and there was no way my pride would let me face the option of being ridiculed or misunderstood.”

 

“So, our situationship was limited to fucking. That’s what it started out as and through that we became friends. After that, it became more complicated.” Jihoon continued. “I’m perceptive. I know Seungcheol was in love with me and I felt the same way but I also knew the way he loved me was more than the way I loved him. It radiated off of him. He definitely wears his heart on his sleeve. But me? I’m very take-it-or-leave-it and I wasn’t sure my feelings could ever evolve to match his. Relationships are hard when one person loves harder.” He paused to swallow down another bite and pointed his fork at Seungkwan. “So when I let up and pushed away, we both did fucked up shit to each other.”

 

“Fucked up as in what exactly?” Seungkwan asked.

 

Jihoon shook his head fervently. “That, I don’t want to talk about.”

 

Seungkwan took a long sip of his water and slowly set the glass back down. He nodded, contemplating how he should formulate his words before responding, “You should talk to him.”

 

Jihoon choked on his own food, releasing a series of hacking coughs as he struggled to force the bit of chicken down his throat. He reached for his glass, downing the water as quickly as possible, and swallowing in relief when he could appropriately breathe.

 

“Yeah, I’m not doing that. You saw him last night, he has a boyfriend. They were there because they’re friends with that DJ you stalk. His name is Vernon.”

 

“Oh, then you definitely have to talk to him.” Seungkwan insisted.

 

Jihoon shot the man a hard glare and tossed his napkin at him. “Are you listening to what I’m saying or focusing on your dick. There’s nothing to talk about.”

 

“I hear you,” Seungkwan said. “But I think you should still try. At the end of the day, it’s your decision ultimately but I feel like you’re never gonna have peace with the situation if you don’t get your closure.”

 

Suddenly, Jihoon didn’t have much of an appetite.

 


Jihoon was waiting for coffee when he met him. The most handsome man he had ever seen in his life. The first thing he noticed was the man was especially tall, tall enough that Jihoon actually had to crane his neck up after feeling a light tap on his shoulder. He was dressed pretty simply, donned in a black tee and a jean jacket, followed by ripped black jeans and sneakers.

 

He smiled down at Jihoon in a friendly manner but there was also something flirtatious about it as his dark, rich brown eyes scanned Jihoon up and down. He pointed at the cup of ice coffee Jihoon currently had his hands curled around and moved his lips to form sentences Jihoon was too incoherent to even hear.

 

“Huh?” Jihoon asked blinking again at the man.

 

“I said,” he repeated in a lower octave, “I think that’s my drink you’re holding.” He pointed at the name scribbled in black permanent marker on the side of the clear cup. Jihoon could barely read the barista’s messy handwriting and only managed to make out a couple of letters.

 

S-e?

 

Seun?

 

He rationalized that it didn’t even matter because it clearly wasn’t his own name. He cast his gaze towards the ground as he felt the telltale heat of embarrassment creep up his neck, shading his skin scarlet. 

 

“Sorry,” he managed to get out handing the cup to its owner and offering the unopened straw as a peace offering.

 

The man’s hearty laugh brought Jihoon’s attention back upwards in time to take in the deep pitted dimples on each of his cheeks.

 

“Don’t worry about it. It was just a mistake, although now I have to know your name.” He said leaning against the counter, pushing the straw into his iced Americano.

 

“My name? Why?” Jihoon asked.

 

“Well,” the man said smiling genuinely, “It has to be relatively close to mine own for you to make such a mistake.”

 

The barista walked over to their side of the counter and slid over an identical drink towards Jihoon and offered her thanks as she returned to work. The man picked up the drink and inspected the handwriting.

 

“Jihoon,” he said. Jihoon shuddered at how his name rolled off his tongue.

 

The man placed a straw into Jihoon’s cup and handed his own cup back to Jihoon. “You can keep this one,” he said. “And since we’ve already exchanged names, maybe we can exchange phone numbers as well.”

 

 

 

 

Jihoon studied the lining of the cup his whole entire walk home, straining and squinting his eyes until he could read the scribbled handwriting.

 

S-E-U-N-G-C-H-E-O-L. Seungcheol. Seungcheol?

 

 

 

 

Jihoon’s eyes opened wide and his loud gasp echoed throughout the room. His head was plastered against the desk in his office cubicle and a small puddle of drool held his skin against the surface. He pulled away, cringing at the sound of sticky skin leaving the surface and removed the bunch of sticky notes tacked to his forehead. He scanned the small clock perched on his desk.

 

6:01

 

What, he thought as he looked around the office. Surely enough the office was abandoned save for a few writers who opted to stay late to get their assignments in. The large windows adorning the walls of the large office, showed the dark of night confirming Jihoon’s assumption.

 

He slept through the rest of his shift.

 

He gathered his supplies in his disoriented state and shoved them into his bag quickly. He was undoubtedly embarrassed about falling asleep in the first place, but more so upset about not being able to finish his own assignments, setting him back a couple of days. He bid his goodbyes to the remaining night crew and rushed out of the building, en route to his apartment.